Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Oh Dad. You're everywhere.

Oh Dad, from the time I was a child, being forty years older than me,  you reminded me that you would not be around forever. It sounded morbid. But I understand what you were doing. You’d talk about the circle of life and of all the generations that had come before you. Still, Mom and I used to tease you for your serious matter-of-fact talk, “Where you going, Dad? Are you leaving us soon?” we’d ask. Mom would brush off your talk. But you gave me decades of preparation for this. And in the past few years, you ramped up that preparation. You set out your wishes. You made clear your intentions. You did not fail us children in any way. Oh but Dad. I wanted another summer of daily living with you. I wanted more time. But Dad, this summer I am seeing and hearing you everywhere. I just can’t believe that you’re really gone.

You were everywhere today. I saw you in the faces of old men who held the door open for me, and in the Maine Maritime football t-shirt I saw another man wearing. I thought of you making pancakes for us and I saw you again pretend to drop mine on the floor. Oh how you’d laugh at the memory of how I called you out on that-- the one time you really did try to serve me a pancake that had fallen. Oh how I miss your laugh!

I saw you ordering ice tea with lemonade and I heard you call the waitress “honey” or “darling” before you stopped, attentive to my lectures to you on how those names sounded sexist or too flirtatious.  I had a panini for lunch and heard you exclaim how delicious these warm sandwiches are--how the cheese melts and the bread gets so crispy. I remember how thrilled you were with all the different kinds of cookies I baked and packaged up for you and Mom this past Christmas. Oh how I will miss cooking and baking for you!

I hear you snicker at how I prefer liquid soap over bar soap and tissues over a cotton handkerchief. I see movies and books I want to buy for you. I think of the list of movies you borrowed from me for those long winter months, and the way you’d loved the first Ken Follett The Pillars of the Earth book. While out shopping today I even saw dresses for me that I knew you’d exclaim made me look beautiful.

I see you bend over the recliner to ask Mom if you have kissed her yet today, and I see you brush her cheek with your lips before you turn around to wink in my direction. I love how devoted you always were to Mom. Always a gentleman. I hear you telling Paul one more time to make sure he wears his retainer now that his braces are off, and how you wish you had worn yours like you were supposed to, all those years ago. I hear you telling Eric about the next project the two of you would do at camp this summer. I hear you ask me where your packets of Sweet-n-Low are in my cupboards, and I see your flashlight on my bedroom bookshelf, the one you placed there so you could use it to navigate your way in the “Walker Inn Suite” each Christmas Eve.

When we went to Goodwill today, I thought of your joy at finding another bargain at the St. Martin’s Thrift store. I saw your old red truck behind me on the road and I could have sworn I saw your yellow AARP Fraud Fighter t-shirt in the audience at Sunday’s matinee. I heard you singing the show tunes from my latest musical and asking the girls to write down the lyrics so you could learn them.

It is the dailyness of life that we seemed to appreciate most when we were together. We were relaxed and natural in our time together. No formalities. No need to impress. They say that when a loved one dies, there are so many regrets. But, I don’t know, Dad. I know I never liked listening to you discuss the world I’d live in after your death, but I was listening, Dad. More than you may think I was. And one thing I know for sure, is that the only regret I truly have is that we do not have more time to enjoy all the little things we would have continued to share together. But I promise you, Dad. I am going to live and love this world fully. I am going to continue to appreciate each day and I am going to love my children fiercely until the day I join you again. Be ready for me when that day comes, Dad. I owe you a pancake with special seasoning.


  1. oh Anne...this made my cry.....what a touching memoir of your Dad.....I had several encounters with your dad over the years, however brief but memorable.He was always a kind, thoughtful man. He always asked about my son Derek, as they went to the same college. When he spoke, it was not a random greeting but an honest conversation about how my family and I were doing. Your memories of him will last you and your family a life time......he will be sadly missed by many but happily remembered by all! :)

    1. Thank you, Mary. I am so proud of him. He touched so many people through his sincere love and concern for his fellow man. I so appreciate your kind words and your acknowledgment of my Dad's goodness. <3